Posts Tagged ‘higher education’

Free College: Looking Ahead

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Advance CTE wrote a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore the future landscape of community college. Check out previous blogs on the history of free college, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program and challenges and limitations to free college programs.

As of September 2018, there are over 350 local and state college promise programs across the country. Though the source of funding for free college varies , the goal of increasing access despite the growing cost of college is the commonality. So far, the 2018 election cycle has seen a number of candidates include some form of free college in their platform. Overall, ten Democratic gubernatorial candidates are promoting free college in their campaign. For example, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous is advocating for free community college and debt free four-year college, Arizona gubernatorial candidate David Garcia is supporting a proposal to make four-year public colleges free and Connecticut gubernatorial Ned Lamont is proposing making the first two years free at any state public college.

At the federal level, various members of Congress have introduced legislation that promotes free college. Perhaps most well known is Senator Bernie Sanders’ (VT-I) “College for All,” proposed in the spring of 2017, that promotes measures such as making all public colleges free for learners with a household income of up to $125,000 and having all community colleges be tuition free. In the spring of 2018 Senator Brian Schatz (HI-D) introduced the “Debt Free College Act” that proposes measures to make college debt free with a focus on the total fees associated with college (such as textbooks, food and housing) instead of only tuition.

The Institute for Higher Education explored the concept of free college, and came up with five ways to fix current programs and build “equity-driven federal and state free-college programs:”

  1. Invest first and foremost in low-income students;
  2. Fund non-tuition expenses for low-income students;
  3. Include four-year colleges in free college programs;
  4. Support existing state need-based grant programs; and
  5. Avoid restrictive or punitive participation requirements, such as post-college residency requirements

 

Additionally, the Education Trust evaluated free college programs through an equity lens, and developed equity driven guidelines to rate and improve current state tuition-free college programs or proposals. They built an eight-step evaluation to use when assessing free college program quality:

  1. Whether the programs cover living expenses;
  2. Whether they cover fees;
  3. Whether they cover the total cost of tuition for at least four years of college;
  4. Whether they include bachelor’s-degree programs;
  5. Whether adult students are eligible;
  6. Whether repayment of aid is required under certain circumstances;
  7. Whether there are GPA requirements; and
  8. Whether there are additional requirements to maintain eligibility

 

Although there is a growing national focus on free college, and even more state-level attention on this issue, a uniform agreement on what this should look like is lacking. There is no general consensus on what free college should look like and the scope of what “free” would truly mean. However, the overarching common goal of making college affordable and accessible will keep the conversation around free college moving forward.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
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Free College: Limitations and Challenges

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Advance CTE is writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore some of the challenges inherent in free college programs. Check out previous blogs on the history of free college and Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program, and look back next week for a blog on the future of free college.

Free college programs have become a popular idea to combat the rising cost of higher education and increase postsecondary attainment for all. However, a variety of different types of initiatives are branded as “free college,” when in reality that term can be misleading for what is actually provided. For example, state-led free college programs are typically “last dollar in.” This means that first grant aid, such as Pell grants, is given to learners and the state will pay for the remaining tuition. Although this is a significant contribution, this “last dollar” practice means that students are using only grant money for tuition instead of putting it towards additional costs of college such as housing, food, textbooks and any other fees. Most of the states that offer free college programs do so through this approach. Additionally, these free college initiatives are often directed toward students who recently graduated high school leaving non-traditional students with large financial barriers.

Free college is really addressed at the state level, instead of the federal level, which means there are inherent limitations. There are considerable constraints on the amount of money states are able to put toward free college programs. In order to keep the state costs low, limits are put on who is eligible and how exactly the money can be applied to the college. For example, states may only open free college programs to recent high school graduates and allow the money to be applied to community colleges, certain areas of study or include the stipulation that participants have to live and work in that state for a number of years.

Overall, state funding to higher education is shrinking. When states are forced to cut portions of their budget, higher education is typically one of the first areas to feel the impact. What’s more, Most of the state tuition-free programs are discretionary, so the allocated amount can change every year.  

Although the free college movement can improve access, because of the many limitations to what free college can actually mean, access is limited for low-income students. The Education Trust’s, “A Promise Fulfilled,” looked at 15 current and 16 proposed state free college programs, and found that unless they are specifically designed to address the needs of low-income students, they do not benefit these learners.

It is clear that although the notion of free college is a positive one, in practice such programs do not always increase opportunities for higher education for everyone. These programs do have potential for more equitable access to postsecondary education if they are created with intentionality. However, if the cost of college continues to go up, increased and equitable postsecondary attainment will persistently be a challenge.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
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Free College: Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Advance CTE will be writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore one example of a free college program. Check out last week’s blog on the history of free college, and look for future blogs on the challenges and future of free college.

The idea of free college has gained traction in a number of states. Indiana has been at the forefront of this movement, and has had some form of free college for the past 30 years. Currently, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program allows participants up to four years of free enrollment at a two or four-year institution. This covers the cost of tuition and any additional fees. Indiana is unique in including four-year colleges in this program, since fewer than half of states with free college initiatives include four-year institutions in their policies. 

This program covers tuition on a “first dollar” basis, meaning that students remain eligible for other forms of aid to go toward non-tuition expenses. Any additional aid learners might receive from the state is not impacted by grants received to cover non-tuition charges.  

Learners can become involved in this program as early as seventh grade. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch in seventh or eighth grade are eligible to apply to be part of 21st Century Scholars. Below are 12 requirements that participating students must meet throughout high school in order to qualify:

In 2017, the program granted over $160 million in financial aid. As of the fall of 2018, there were about 80,000 program participants throughout middle and high school and 20,000 in college. This program has bipartisan support in the state.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
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Free College: A Brief Policy History

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Advance CTE will be writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore the history of the movement toward free college. Check back for blogs on the challenges, successful practices and future of free college.

College affordability, or lack of affordability, is one of the most pressing problem in the world of higher education. Free postsecondary education has long been a topic of conversation, and various models have been piloted at the state and local levels. The Atlantic’s “Debt Free” article explains that this idea was given renewed national attention when former President Barack Obama addressed the topic in his 2015 State of the Union speech. In particular, President Obama advocated that the place to start implementing such policies was in community colleges. Afterward, with the upcoming presidential election campaigns underway, the conversation of free college remained part of many candidates dialogue. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for example, was a vocal advocate.

Some state higher education institutions previously held free college policies, but found that model unsustainable over time. TIME’s piece, “What Happened When American States Tried Providing Tuition-Free College,” profiled some such examples:

A main driver behind institutions pulling back on free college practices has to do with the significant increase in enrollment, as reported by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Whereas in the 1909-1910 school year only 355,000 of Americans 19-24 years old (2.9 percent of those in that age bracket) enrolled in higher education, by 2012 that number increased to 31.4 million (41 percent). At the same time, state and local funding for public colleges and universities decreased. Just from 2008-2016, overall state dollar allocation across the country to institutions of higher education has declined by 16 percent. If free college policies were put in place at the founding of an institution, the combination of increased enrollment and decreased state and local funding made the model unsustainable.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Research, Uncategorized
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Bus Tour Shines a Light on Problems Facing Youth

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
This week, our partners at Young Invincibles launched an 18-state National Youth Bus Tour that will take them to every corner of the country listening to the stories, issues, and solutions of young Americans.  They’ll be co-hosting roundtables with young adults (18-34), both in school and out, to talk about critical issues like jobs, higher education and health care, and then bringing those voices directly to our political leaders and the media.
You can sign up to do your own youth roundtable by emailing Members@YoungInvincibles.org, or join an existing event.  Check out the tour schedule atwww.YoungAmerica.is.  You can also help by tweeting or posting on Facebook what #YoungAmericaIs to you (ex. entrepreneurial, uninsured, trying to graduate, etc.).  Follow the bus tour on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and at www.YoungAmerica.Is.
Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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What Should College Graduates Know and Be Able to Do? New Lumina Report Provides Framework

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

What are the expectations of a student graduating with an associate degree? Or a bachelor’s or master’s degree? Answers to these questions are varied and may indicate a need for more clearly defined expectations for postsecondary degree attainment in the United States. This week, the Lumina Foundation released The Degree Qualifications Profile, a framework illustrating “what students should be expected to know and be able to do once they earn their degrees – at any level.”

The Degree Profile suggests specific learning outcomes that benchmark all associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It also proposes much more extensive use of field-work and experiential learning throughout all degrees, aspects that are often present in career technical education. Through its framework, the Lumina Foundation encourages institutes of higher education to increase all students’ skills and experiences in analysis, adaptation, and application. The report particularly emphasizes its application component, describing the importance of “educational experience rich in field-related projects, performances, investigative essays, demonstrations, and other learning-intensive activities.”

The Degree Profile can improve the quality of learning at many levels and for many stakeholders:

While President Obama’s call to increase the number of college graduates in America has been widely publicized, greater attention must be paid to the quality and the meaning of degrees to be conferred upon a record number of students. To increase the quality of degrees at all levels, the Degree Profile helps colleges and universities to make changes in five basic areas: Broad, Integrative Knowledge; Intellectual skills; Applied Learning; Civic Learning; and Specialized Knowledge. Under each area, Lumina identifies specific learning outcomes for each degree (associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees). With the input of two accrediting agencies (Western Association of Schools and Colleges and The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and the Council of Independent Colleges, the organization plans to test and make adjustments to the degree profile. For more detailed information, please see the Lumina Foundation website.

By Kara in News, Resources
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